Chris Testa-O'Neill on Increasing Business and IT collaboration with SQL Server

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

 

Chris presenting on stage

I was one of the few who braved the 39°C heat outside to hear Chris Testa-O'Neill (@ctesta_oneill) speak at this month's Adelaide SQL Server User Group. Great to have Chris back in Adelaide again.

It proved to be a really interesting presentation about what BI tools are now available, and what tools are appropriate for what problems.

The talk concluded with a nice demonstration of setting up PowerPivot in Excel, highlighting what could be achieved by a business 'power user', and what areas they would require assistance from a BI expert.

We also met in a different room from normal which I think most people thought was a better space. Plus (as you may observe in the photo above), it has a grand piano – I'm sure we could find a use for that somehow!

TFS Best Practice Analyzer failing with "%TFSServerURLValidated%

Saturday, 7 December 2013

I've been having trouble running the Team Foundation Server Best Practise Analyser (TfsBpa for short). It was failing with the following warning:

Cannot validate the URL provided
The scan was generated using the corrected URL "%TFSServerURLValidated%".

I noticed in the "Other Reports" section that it listed the following additional errors:

23:03:07.351: Exception resetting Execution Policy in TFS PowerShell Object Processor:
System.Management.Automation.CmdletInvocationException
Access to the registry key 'HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\PowerShell\1\ShellIds\Microsoft.PowerShell' is denied.
   at System.Management.Automation.Internal.PipelineProcessor.SynchronousExecuteEnumerate(Object input, Hashtable errorResults, Boolean enumerate)
   at System.Management.Automation.PipelineNode.Execute(Array input, Pipe outputPipe, ArrayList& resultList, ExecutionContext context)
   at System.Management.Automation.StatementListNode.ExecuteStatement(ParseTreeNode statement, Array input, Pipe outputPipe, ArrayList& resultList, ExecutionContext context)
System.Management.Automation
Script

Hmm.. I wonder if it's a problem related to PowerShell's execution policy setting?

I ran the following in an elevated PowerShell prompt:

Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned

And that's fixed it – now the BPA process runs as expected. Yay!

Dumb Questions

Friday, 8 November 2013

A car is bogged at Port Parham South Australia in 1951Something I still remember from my school days was one of my teachers telling me, "David, don't be afraid to ask a question!". Presumably I'd been struggling with a particular topic (possibly maths), and essentially they were encouraging me not to sit there "spinning my wheels", but get some help to make sense of the problem.

That's a lesson that's just as applicable today as it was then. In software development, we are constantly solving problems. Some are easy, and some are hard. Some are easy but the hard bit is finding the bit that will be easy to fix.

Sometimes it's just the act of getting a colleague to come and have a look that sheds light on the problem.

But not just in work. Only this week I was at a Church meeting, and people were asking some very deep, insightful questions. I however asked what some might call a "dumb" question (but one which I didn't know the answer, hence why I asked).

After the meeting as I was leaving, a couple of people came up to me and said, "I was wondering the same thing, thanks for asking that!".

Which is another great reason to ask questions, even if you think they're dumb, as odds are someone else is wondering the same thing too.

Photo from Mallala Museum, used under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic license

What's waking up my computer at 3am?

Thursday, 17 October 2013

I was working late last night, and when I was done, I chose 'Hibernate' when I was closing my laptop. This morning, I went to grab my laptop and noticed it was warm (with the lid down). Something had caused it to wake up, but what?

First stop, Event Viewer. In the System Log, there's this event:

The system has returned from a low power state.

Sleep Time: ‎2013‎-‎10‎-‎16T14:59:15.107518600Z 
Wake Time: ‎2013‎-‎10‎-‎16T16:44:40.891642600Z

Wake Source: Unknown

Well that's not particularly useful.

I remember previously having a similar problem caused by a scheduled task – so maybe it would be worth checking what scheduled tasks are active and allowed to wake up the computer? You can view all scheduled tasks by opening the Windows Task Scheduler application. The problem is that tasks are listed hierarchically, so you'd need to drill down into every folder and review each task. Maybe PowerShell can do this more efficiently?

Graimer posts a good example of querying scheduled tasks on Stack Overflow.

I've extended it so that I can filter just the tasks with WakeToRun and Enabled both true.

function getTasks($path) {
    $out = @()

    # Get root tasks
    $schedule.GetFolder($path).GetTasks(0) | % {
        $xml = [xml]$_.xml
        $obj = New-Object psobject -Property @{
            "Name" = $_.Name
            "Path" = $_.Path
            "LastRunTime" = $_.LastRunTime
            "NextRunTime" = $_.NextRunTime
            #"WakeToRun" = [bool]::Parse( $xml.Task.Settings.WakeToRun
            #"Enabled" = [bool] $xml.Task.Settings.Enabled
            "Actions" = ($xml.Task.Actions.Exec | % { "$($_.Command) $($_.Arguments)" }) -join "`n"
        }

        if ($xml.Task.Settings.WakeToRun)
        {
            Add-Member -InputObject $obj -Name "WakeToRun" -Value ([bool]::Parse( $xml.Task.Settings.WakeToRun )) -MemberType NoteProperty
        }

        if ($xml.Task.Settings.Enabled)
        {
            Add-Member -InputObject $obj -Name "Enabled" -Value ([bool]::Parse( $xml.Task.Settings.Enabled )) -MemberType NoteProperty
        }

        $out += $obj
    }

    # Get tasks from subfolders
    $schedule.GetFolder($path).GetFolders(0) | % {
        $out += getTasks($_.Path)
    }

    #Output
    $out
}

$tasks = @()

$schedule = New-Object -ComObject "Schedule.Service"
$schedule.Connect() 

# Start inventory
$tasks += getTasks("\")

# Close com
[System.Runtime.Interopservices.Marshal]::ReleaseComObject($schedule) | Out-Null
Remove-Variable schedule

# Output all tasks
$tasks | Where-Object { $_.WakeToRun -and $_.Enabled }
(It appears that these extra properties are sometimes null or don't exist, so I had to add them conditionally)

So, what were the results? There were two:

Actions     :  
Path        : \Microsoft\Windows\TaskScheduler\Manual Maintenance
Name        : Manual Maintenance
LastRunTime : 30/12/1899 12:00:00 AM
NextRunTime : 30/12/1899 12:00:00 AM
WakeToRun   : True
Enabled     : True

Actions     :  
Path        : \Microsoft\Windows\TaskScheduler\Regular Maintenance
Name        : Regular Maintenance
LastRunTime : 17/10/2013 8:16:31 AM
NextRunTime : 18/10/2013 3:00:04 AM
WakeToRun   : True
Enabled     : True

I think we can exclude the first, as it has never run. The second looks interesting as the NextRunTime is pretty close to the time that my laptop resumed. I'll change the WakeToRun setting on this task to see if the problem goes away.

Windows 8.1 VPN Settings

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

In Windows 8 after you had configured a VPN, you could right-click on a VPN connection and a context menu gave you two options:

Windows 8 VPN context menu

The second item is really useful when your password for the VPN has changed, and you need to enter the new password.

Upgrading to Windows 8.1, this context menu doesn't seem to exist anymore. It seems that to modify connection properties or credentials, the only option is to search for "Change VPN Settings".

Windows 8.1 VPN Settings

Selecting a VPN connection then enables Edit and Remove buttons. Clicking Edit takes you to the Connection Properties screen, where you can update credentials and VPN proxy settings.

Strange that this is a bit harder under 8.1.